Vietnam has been named in the top 10 countries for expats, according to HSBC’s Expat 2019 Global Report released in July 2019. Vietnam Insider talked with Rahn Wood, Deputy Head of Retail Banking & PMO at Eximbank Vietnam, about his experience of living and working in Vietnam.
Mr Wood is an internationally experienced executive with over 30 years of achievements in Retail, Commercial & Digital Banking, Cards and Payments. He has performed executive roles at some of the most prestigious financial institutions including HSBC (Australia, Hong Kong & Singapore), Vietnam International Bank, Techcombank, Saudi British Bank, Macquarie Bank, MasterCard and ANZ Bank. Throughout his career, he has authored, and in many cases implemented, a large range of strategic change programs and startups. He is an engaging and bold leader with excellent analytic skills who is able to communicate between the boardroom and the showroom.
According to Mr Wood, Vietnam is like no other when it comes to being an expat.
Can you start us off with why you chose Vietnam and what were the circumstances of your decision?
In 2009, I was working with HSBC and had the opportunity to be seconded to Techcombank, in which HSBC was a strategic investor at that time. I had previously only worked in developed countries (Australia, Hong Kong, Saudi Arabia), so I was excited to apply my experience to a developing market. Being selected for an exciting role in Hanoi was good luck more than good planning.
Vietnam in that period was growing really fast. It was exciting. The other countries where I’ve worked are all very mature. The banking landscape is well-established and dominated by big banks. In general you couldn’t propose overly disruptive or ambitious ideas; in most situations you only improve on what’s been there for a long time. In Vietnam, especially at Techcombank, they were willing to invest aggressively in growth. I have fond memories of successful meetings where the CEO & Chairman supported my proposal to expand the bank’s network by up to 2,000 ATMs and 300 outlets. They were very bold. And it was the right time to do it.